Hitting A High Note: IndiEarth At The Park
Every so often, the city of Chennai bears witness to musical spectacles that bring together independent artists, out of the box sounds, and supremely awesome music. This past Saturday April 5th was one of those nights, as IndiEarth At The Park was proud to host three talented acts – Whirling Kalapas, Vasuda Sharma, and DJ Uri Solanki.
Enraptured by the music was a crowd of devoted fans gathered around in the heart of The Park, encircling the Whirling Kalapas as the band flowed seamlessly through different genres and ideas, sounds and on stage experimentations, throwing in a bit of folk mashed up with acoustic blues blended with hints of straight up rock. Uday’s charismatic on stage presence kept the crowd engaged and consistently on their feet.
Singer/songwriter Vasuda Sharma took to the Leather Bar stage next, experimenting with loops and sounds that brought together her two worlds of Indian Classical and Western contemporary music. Getting the crowd involved with the loopy action was part of the interactive act. We chatted more with the two acts about their performances at IndiEarth At The Park in the recently launched IndiEarth Podcast – a sonic tribute to new sounds and independent artists who are shaping India’s burgeoning independent music scene. Have a listen to the podcast right here.
The night closed with an old skool tribute performance by scratch master DJ Uri Solanki who made it his mission to venture into unexplored sonic territory, taking his dance floor along for the ride. “Within my set it’s about exposing people to music that they’re not otherwise listening to – and then trying to make them dance to that”, said Uri about his set plan for the evening. We caught up more with the turntable wizard about the music that drives him – and his dance floors.
IndiEarth: Can you tell us more about the sounds you’re pushing to Indian audiences, and what interests you the most right now musically?
Uri: I’m basically digging backwards into my music collection instead of going out and trying to find the new stuff – so soul, funk, jazz, swing from the 30’s and 40’s, the original stuff – that’s what interests me the most right now! I guess I’m also trying to indirectly educate listeners about certain tracks from yesteryear, and trying to highlight these sounds from back then. I’m also trying to get people to do some research, go back and see what happened in the past. I’m fed up with all the stuff that everyone knows – that doesn’t excite me anymore.
IndiEarth: According to you, what is the way forward to help foster and nurture an independent music culture/ethos in India, and help spread new and interesting sounds to wider audiences?
Uri: I think India really needs that sort of culture – other parts of the world have these radio stations where people get to listen to new music right away. We’ve got MTV but that doesn’t necessarily help much – with the technology of the internet, I’m surprised more people aren’t tuning into these radio stations. If people had a radio station here that played these alternative forms of music, it would really get it out.
It should also be happening in the clubs – DJs should be playing maybe 50% tracks that everyone knows, and then 50% fresh new tracks that no one has heard of – that’s how they did it back in the day! But DJs today are playing it safe and just playing tracks that everyone has already heard, that seems how people are doing it now – they aren’t willing to take a lot of risks like they did back in the day. Unfortunately, exposure to new music isn’t happening so much – there are mix tapes, online avenues, but somehow Indian audiences aren’t fully tapping into them as yet.
IndiEarth: What are some of the challenges you face as an artist trying push new and different sounds?
Uri: The biggest challenge is playing something people aren’t used to, and trying to keep them on the dance floor. So how I try to do it is by playing one or two tracks they know, and then one they don’t know. But it’s never something popular, not the top 40 stuff – it’s something they haven’t heard for a couple of years. I guess it’s about trying to figure out what they’re into, and playing stuff they wouldn’t normally hear. I’m not trying to force it down their throats, but trying to subconsciously give them these new and fresh sounds – that’s the only way I can see it working.
IndiEarth: Can you tell us more about your experiences at IndiEarth At The Park?
Uri: It was fun! I met some really interesting people, what was most interesting about Saturday was that you had three different artists in three different venues all in one night, I’ve never seen that in India – it was nice to be able to hop from one space to the other for three totally different experiences. I’ve also played in Chennai a few times and to crowds that somehow I didn’t vibe with, but this audience was one I felt were coming out for the music.
Check out all the pictures from the wild night right here.